Lafayette General Medical Center is pictured Tuesday, May 28, 2019, in Lafayette, La.

Jennings American Legion Hospital and Lafayette General Health have signed a letter of intent, an initial step, to explore a merger, by which LGH will assume management and operations of JALH. The announcement was made Tuesday in an issued statement by LGH.

Under the proposed structure, LGH will lease the hospital, its clinics, physical plant and equipment through an agreement with the local American Legion Post, the owner, which founded the 49-bed, acute care institution in 1952. LGH spokeswoman Patricia Thompson said the attorney general must approve any agreement that JALH and LGH reach.

"Nearly 70 years ago, the American Legion Post 19 established a hospital to meet the needs of its community. They built a terrific foundation for us to build upon," LGH President David L. Callecod, FACHE, said. "It is our intention to successfully integrate Jennings American Legion Hospital into our health system while at the same time maintaining its rich legacy.

“We want to work together to make them an even stronger community hospital by growing existing services and adding new ones. As with our partnerships with other hospitals in Acadiana, our goal is always to keep health care local and close to home.”

LGH and the Jennings hospital approved a clinical affiliation in 2016, enhancing economies of scale, sharing of best practices and clinical protocol alignment, LGH’s statement said. The structure and specifics of the lease/management agreement will be developed over the next several months. The goal is to finalize documents in 2020 and execute the arrangement as early as Oct. 1.

The goal, LGH said, is to help Jennings American Legion Hospital remain the hospital of choice in Jefferson Davis Parish, keeping residents close to home while receiving high quality medical services. LGH will be able to provide expanded resources, technology, purchasing power and more access to services to help JALH deliver care more efficiently and cost-effectively.

“The partnership with Lafayette General Health opens up tremendous opportunities for continued improvements and growth at Jennings American Legion Hospital," JALH Board Chairman Arthur Matte said. "We have a strong, healthy hospital, but health care is complex and rapidly changing, and we need a partner that can help us thrive into the future and meet the evolving needs of our community,” continued Matte.

Lafayette General Health anticipates a $6 million investment in technology, infrastructure upgrades and integration as well as physician placement and recruitment. Additional investments for facility upgrades and capital planning are also in development as the two entities work toward a final agreement.

Lafayette General Health is a nonprofit, community-owned health system serving Southwest Louisiana across 10 parishes in Acadiana. It was founded in 1911 and serves as the Level II Trauma Center for Southwestern Louisiana.

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